Jaguars vs. Colts: Jacksonville finally back in the win column
There wasn’t a single soul at TIAA Bank Field concerned about the manner of victory today, but lord knows the Jacksonville Jaguars needed one.
Coming into today in the midst of a seven game losing streak the Jaguars knew it would take a mammoth performance from their defensive unit for Cody Kessler to have a chance of winning his first start for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and a mammoth performance they got.
Andrew Luck had won five straight games and thrown at least three touchdowns in all of his last eight (including a week ten victory against the Jacksonville) coming into this game, but left the field today a paltry 33/52 for 224 yards and an interception. He faced constant pressure from a defensive line that looked like their 2017 best, sacking the Colts’ quarterback three times throughout today’s contest – which is one more than Indianapolis have allowed in their last seven straight games.
Whilst two personal foul penalties in the early goings of the game looked as though they were going to doom the Jaguars to yet another loss, Todd Wash’s vaunted defense made stand after stand after the Colts gambled on fourth downs early on. As Yannick Ngakoue made a goal line tackle to keep Nyheim Hines out of the end-zone in the first half before Myles Jack and Telvin Smith combining to force a fumble from Eric Ebron as he attempted a jet sweep on fourth and one around midfield.
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Things started off poorly on the offensive side of the ball as Carlos Hyde fumbled the ball on the Jaguars third play, setting the Colts up in Jacksonville territory. Thankfully for the offense the defense was able to bail them out as D.J Hayden was able to pick off a pass intended for tight end Ebron and bring it out to the Jaguars’ 28.
It took almost the full first half for either team to score points, with the Jaguars marching the ball from their own 40 to within range for Josh Lambo following the aforementioned fumble by Ebron on fourth down.
The second half felt like much of the same as the Jaguars defense wasn’t giving away anything to a Colts offense that racked up over 350 yards of offense when these two teams met just last month. One of the standout players from today’s game was rookie safety Ronnie Harrison, who had a huge sack with 2:38 left in the game for the Jaguars to get yet another stop on fourth down as the Colts were on the edge of the red-zone down by six.
Luck once again had his team driving in Jacksonville’s territory late on but rather than take shots at the end-zone with only nine seconds left Luck through a short out route to his receiver who Jalen Ramsey hit hard and kept in bounds as the clock ran down on a Jaguars victory.
Kessler had a decent day in his first start in Jacksonville. Playing turnover-free football (although he did have to recover one of his own fumbles late on) and making the right decision in most situations, allowing the Jaguars to win with him rather than lose because of their quarterback play has been the case for too often in recent times.
Completing 66 percent of his passes and showing the ability to get yards with his legs, there’s definitely room for optimism in the Jaguars quarterback room as we approach the end of the season. With Blake Bortles likely on his way out of Jacksonville (the Jaguars save $4.5m if he is not on the team next year) Kessler will give himself every chance to start if the Jaguars keep winning football games.
It’s important not to look at today’s result as anything other than what it is though, the Jaguars won’t be able to consistently win games putting up only ten points. But with Leonard Fournette suspended and a host of the starters on offense injured, the defense has once again shown that it rivals any other in football.
A win is a win, and the Jaguars finally have one. Enjoy your week.